Twisting Tradition: Myles Karr's Illustrative Style Defies Category

Twisting Tradition: Myles Karr's Illustrative Style Defies Category

Some artists slightly blur the boundaries of styles, Myles Karr smashes them together with force.

There are very few tattoo artists that have developed a style that is completely their own. Brooklyn’s Myles Karr is one of these artists. Briefly familiarize yourself with his work and you will be able to spot a Myles Karr piece for the rest of your life. I’ve been following his career closely since he threw a piece on the back of my leg a decade ago, and have watched in awe as Myles has perfected a grim sense of whimsy that seems to define his style alongside his endless creativity.


Karr has created more than just his own style, his tattoos are a twisted world in and of themselves – a world of distorted shapes, pale shades, and stark contrasting imagery. It is as if all of his beautiful, twisted creations were plucked from the same alternate reality. He brings these visions to life through a seemingly effortless use of shape, color, and texture that would be hard for many seasoned artists to replicate. 


There exists a paradoxical realism to his output of things that do not exist — a strange lifelike quality to things that will never live. Conversely, his real world subjects always seem to come across as bizzaro versions of themselves from a much cooler looking dimension. Haunting impossible faces with more eyeballs staring at you than have any right to, brutal amalgamations of man and beast pieced together with a sound logic outside the grasp of most, and a deeply disturbed vision of mother nature are all hallmarks of his work.

“I usually just describe it as kind of a twist on traditional imagery kind of through my own filter,” Karr says with a laugh. “I just try to draw what I think is right... which is generally wrong. And I just try to sell that.”


A year ago Karr started a private studio called Escapist Tattoo, a one man endeavor in Greenpoint. He has a space for guest artists, and tries to have about one a month. The studio is a beautiful culmination of a career spent at various shops in the city and countless guest spots all over the map. Here, the artist has created a space that places no barriers between himself and his artistic vision.

Karr reflects thoughtfully about the development of his style, “I think took a lot of influences from things outside of tattooing, and then by looking at things that were based in tattooing and based in fine art or illustration and then combining them I think I’ve been kind of able to apply different things and just make things work that have not necessarily been tried before. I definitely fail a lot, but I definitely try to push that envelope a little bit, try to bring new new style and imagery to something that has a long history of staying pretty much the same.”


When asked who out there has a style that is all their own in the way that his is, Karr ponders hard for a moment before answering. “I like Noah Moore in Kansas City,” he says. “I’m really into Ron Wells’ stuff in Providence. And I’m a big fan of this guy Acetates from Spain, I love his work. And Dan Sinnes from Luxembourg. It’s all people who have their feet rooted in the history of tattooing, but are pushing their own style, but it’s pays close homage, it’s recognizable, it’s an homage to things that have happened in the past.”

While Karr definitely possesses a deep understanding of his craft’s past and its current state, I have a feeling that maybe he possesses a slight glint of knowledge of the future of tattooing, a world in which homage is paid to him and the style he has created. Or perhaps in some distant future, where the world is a dystopian, nuked-out wasteland, some of the creatures from Myles’ work roam the earth, psychically projecting their forms back in time to his subconscious.

A twisted monstrosity by Myles Karr (via IG -- myleskarr) #myleskarr #tiger

More of Myles Karr’s work and all of his contact information can be found at www.escapisttatto.com

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